A Birthday Surprise for Crozer-Keystone Hospice Patient & WWII Veteran - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on February 06, 2015

A Birthday Surprise for Crozer-Keystone Hospice Patient & WWII Veteran


Crozer-Keystone Health SystemMedia Contact:
Mary Wascavage
(610) 284-8619

WWII Veteran on Hospice

Pictured with John Cahall, from left to right, are Bill McMullen; daughters Linda Cahall-Graham and Charlotte Wasmundski; Caitlin Coffin, Crozer-Keystone Home Health and Hospice aide; Ozzie Kennedy, R.N.; daughter Sharon Short; grandson Rick Wasmundski (kneeling); Ed Keegan; and John Gourdier. Not pictured: Joan Becker, Crozer-Keystone social worker.

UPLAND, PA – World War II veteran John Cahall of Linwood has vivid memories of serving in the U.S. Army’s 14th Armored Tank Division, under General George S. Patton. Today, thanks to Crozer-Keystone Hospice staff, Cahall got a very special birthday surprise—one that his family will remember always.

Cahall celebrated his 96th birthday on Friday, Feb. 6, and staff from Crozer-Keystone Hospice made it a memorable one. Cahall’s nurse, Ozzie Kennedy, R.N., and social worker Joan Becker collaborated to bring members of the Boothwyn American Legion Post 951 to Cahall’s home bearing special gifts.

“Mr. Cahall fought for our freedom,” Kennedy says. “He is too frail to leave his house, so this is something special that we can do for him.” Hospice staff, including Kennedy and Becker, like to learn as much as they can about their patients’ backgrounds and personal lives. Kennedy says that knowing these intimate details not only helps in the treatment process, but allows the team to carry out acts of kindness that are meaningful to their patients and make them feel extra special. In Cahall’s case, Kennedy had a casual conversation with him about his experiences in Germany and the Philippines. Next thing he knew, Cahall was regaling him with stories about his dealings with the legendary five-star general. Seeing an opportunity, Kennedy brought in Becker and together they hatched the plan. “Joan called the VFW in Boothwyn, where Mr. Cahall spent most of his life,” Kennedy says. “When she told the post commander, Ed Keegan, what we wanted to do he told her that he knew Mr. Cahall. Ed’s dad would take him to the Boothwyn VFW as a child and Mr. Cahall was always there.”

“Ed had fond memories of those days,” Becker adds, “and told me that it would be an honor to present Mr. Cahall with a flag in recognition of his service to our country. He even said that he would have a plaque made as well, which thrilled Mr. Cahall’s three daughters. How many people who are alive today can say they saw combat in World War II and had as many conversations with General George Patton as Mr. Cahall did?”

Cahall was taken completely by surprise when Keegan walked through the door with fellow Post 951 members Bill McMullen and John Gourdier. His three daughters brought out a cake, and together with the Hospice staff in attendance they all sang happy birthday. “I can’t say enough about the Hospice staff,” says Sharon Short, Cahall’s youngest daughter. “They are phenomenal. I was doing my father’s caregiving, but then his doctor recommended hospice and they came in and took care of everything. They bathe him, give him his medications, everything—no matter what he needs. Joan, Ozzie and Caitlin are the greatest. I would definitely recommend them to anyone.”

As Kennedy reflects on the Hospice team’s latest good deed, he too spreads the good vibes around to everyone, saying, “We have a great team—from the social workers, pastoral counselors, volunteers, doctors, nurses and home health aides. We all do whatever we can for our patients.”

Since 1988, the Crozer-Keystone Hospice team of highly trained professionals has provided exceptional compassionate care to residents of Delaware County and beyond in their homes, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and the Hospice Residence, located at Taylor Hospital. Learn more about Home Health and Hospice services or call (610) 284-0700.

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